Hermia from A Midsummer Night's Dream: Character Traits, Analysis & Monologue

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  • 0:44 Character Traits:…
  • 1:17 Character Traits:…
  • 2:13 Character Traits:…
  • 3:21 A Monologue From Hermia
  • 4:41 Analysis of Hermia's…
  • 5:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
In Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' the beautiful Hermia is faced with three impossible choices: marry a man she doesn't love, disobey her father and die, or become a nun. Instead, she chooses a course of her own and risks adventure in a magical wood.

Character Traits: Hermia the Fearful

A man named Demetrius asks Hermia's father, Egeus, for her hand in marriage. Only Hermia, beautiful, desirable, and young, loves another: Lysander. Demetrius is determined and smug. He knows Egeus approves of him, and he intends to marry Hermia whether she likes it or not.

Hermia is afraid. She knows the law of the land. If Hermia disobeys her father, she will receive the death penalty. If she remains single, she must become a nun. Theseus, the king, makes it clear: obey your father, become a nun, or die. How miserable Hermia must feel. She and Lysander are deeply in love.

Character Traits: Hermia's Hope

Lysander plans an elopement. They will meet in the woods and then flee far from Athens, from Theseus' law, from her father's stubborn choice of a husband. So, a flower of hope opens in her heart, and she is determined to forge her own destiny. However, the magical, wild world of the woods intervenes. But, in an unexpected twist, Helena, Hermia's best friend and confidant, reveals the plan to Demetrius, thinking that by taking him into her confidence, he will love her instead of Hermia. Hermia deeply trusts her friend, and that friend betrays her trust.

Character Traits: Hermia's Bewilderment

Unbeknownst to all, fairies dwell in the woods. In this case, the fairies intervene. As poor Hermia and Lysander sleep, the king of the fairies, Oberon, instructs his mischievous servant, Puck, to put a love potion in Demetrius' eyes. He takes pity on poor Helena who, unfortunately, is throwing herself at the disdainful Demetrius, who only has eyes for Hermia. This is important to note because Puck accidentally places the potion in Lysander's eyes.

Lysander sees Helena and begins pursuing her instead of eloping with his true love, Hermia. Imagine Hermia's confusion! First, she wakes up from a nightmare only to find that Lysander is gone. Then she realizes that her faithful Lysander, really her savior from a loveless marriage, or worse, is now pursuing her best friend! Hermia is tired, and now, confused beyond measure.

Character Traits: Hermia's Joy Restored

In an effort to redeem himself, Puck drips the love potion in Demetrius' eyes, as well. Suddenly, both Lysander and Demetrius pursue Helena through the woods. Helena, however, believes they are joking with her and even believes Hermia to be in on the prank. Hermia begs Lysander to explain his sudden change of heart towards her, and he responds, '. . .vile thing, let loose' (3.2), calling her rude names, such as dwarf, minimus, and acorn. Odd insults, to be sure!

Oberon scolds Puck for his colossal error and instructs him to make it right. Before Lysander and Demetrius kill each other over Helena, all four young people fall asleep exhausted, and when they wake up, Lysander loves Hermia and Demetrius loves Helena. Not only that, Hermia's father recants his former edict, and not only do Lysander and Hermia get married that very day, but Demetrius and Helena, as well. Hermia's joy is restored.

A Monologue From Hermia

Hermia delivers short monologues throughout the play, and most of what she says is in the woods, as she attempts to work out her fears and confusion. Each monologue is written in iambic pentameter, as is customary in Shakespearean plays. One of her best monologues in scene one reads:

'My good Lysander!
I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicity of Venus' doves,
By that which knitteth souls and prospers loves,
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen,
When the false Troyan under sail was seen,
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke,
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee' (1.1)

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